PESHAWAR: Walkways of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and MPAs Hostel are abuzz with rumours about a real estate giant ‘investing’ money in the upcoming Senate elections.
Lawmakers say that money and not political ideology is likely to be the main and decisive factor for winning the polls in the province.
Horse trading seems to be an outdated methodology in the coming polls.
The property tycoon is stated to be backing the candidates of a political party in the provincial assembly that can be a game-changer.
Take a look: Some in PTI vying for Senate tickets
“Some of the lawmakers have become front men of the candidates, who are discussing deals with lawmakers at the MPAs Hostel,” confided one legislator.
“The price of votes for the Senate elections has not been fixed as yet.”
“One thing is, however, obvious that money rather than political ideology and morals seem to become an overriding factor in the upcoming elections for the Upper House of parliament,” he maintains.
The expected use of money in elections has worried some of the lawmakers in general and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in particular. MPAs of the PTI who have formed “pressure group” in the assembly say that ruling party may end up as a major loser in the number game, given the amount of cash involved.
And this singular factor, say party lawmakers on background basis, was enough to cause tremendous amount of anxiety to party leaders with some losing sleep over what they believe could come as a big embarrassment.
“Things are going out of hands,” a senior party lawmaker confided.
Backing candidates of a political party in provincial assembly
“Khan Sahib will have to come, stay put, fix the problem and oversee the Senate elections,” he said, alluding to the party chief, Imran Khan.
“Without him (Imran Khan) around, there will be a mess.”
Dilemma with the PTI, said one disgruntled MPA, was that the ruling party was passing through the process of evolution and did not know the gimmicks involved in the political arena.
“Internal rifts and allegations of corruption against cabinet members have put PTI at the crossroads and these factors will have serious impact on the performance of the party in the Senate elections too,” he observed.
Nowhere in the past has there been so much accentuated anxiety over money play in the Senate elections. Like lawmakers of PTI and Jamaat-i-Islami the money factor has also worried members of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and Awami National Party.
“The coming elections will be like a Sunday Bazaar in the KP Assembly,” a lawmaker of the opposition amused.
“I have cast vote in the Senate elections more than four times but the upcoming polls will be the worst,” he predicted, adding that some contestants have already started paying token money to voters.
The combined opposition, comprising Pakistan People’s Party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Awami National Party and Qaumi Watan Party, has also torn apart ahead of the elections though Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s younger brother, Maulana Lutfur Rehman, who holds the office of the opposition leader, looks optimistic that the opposition’s candidates would be elected unopposed.
The opposition parties having 53 seats in the 124-member house have fielded 11 candidates for the electoral race.
The JUI-F has 17 MPAs and demands two seats.
The PML-N has also demanded two seats. The house of PML-N with 16 MPAs is also in disorder and insiders say the party leadership is less concerned about the results of the Senate polls from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The party member from Mansehra, Wajehuz Zaman Khan, has seconded nomination papers of outgoing Senator Waqar Ahmad Khan, while PTI lawmaker Javed Nasim has become approver. Insiders do not rule out the slipping away of other MPAs of the PML-N.
Similarly, the QWP having 10 MPAs and ANP with five votes also demand two and one seat, respectively.
The JUI-F and the QWP are still making efforts to develop consensus among opposition parties, but their formula is not acceptable to the PPP and the ANP.
The JUI-F wants two seats, one for the PML-N and one for the QWP, while one seat will go to the PPP and the ANP and that they will decide about it through a draw. But the JUI-F formula is not acceptable to the PPP at least which is playing a very calculated game.
As lawmakers of the opposition and treasury benches confided that the PPP despite five members in the assembly would give a big surprise, eyes have been set on the party in the contest for Senate.
PPP parliamentary leader Mohammad Ali Shah Bacha says that his party will never compromise on less than two Senate seats if the combined opposition offers a deal.
“Initially, the PPP can agree on getting one seat, but it will not settle for less than two seats,” he said.
The guessing game will go haywire in the coming days as the alleged flow of money continues and the opposition and treasury benches are flex muscles to ensure their members do not deviate from their formulas.
Published in Dawn February 19th , 2015